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2022 NABCEP CE Conference!

Designing Small Scale PV Systems with Energy Storage


Approved for 40-Hour NABCEP Advanced PV Training Hours

Instructor: Christopher LaForge

Subjects: Solar: Batteries and Storage, Solar: Design and Installation, Solar: NABCEP

Length: 6 weeks

Student Rating

7.5 out of 10 (view ratings)
99 students have taken this course

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This course counts towards the training requirements for taking NABCEP professional certification exams and CEUs for renewing all certifications.

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This course provides in-depth analysis of the issues surrounding the use of energy storage systems (ESS) for residential and commercial PV applications up to 100 kW/150 kWh. It covers battery system design, specification, use and maintenance.

This is an intensive six-week training with solar legend Christopher LaForge. PV systems that employ batteries require significant design considerations. Whether you're using batteries for backup when the grid goes down or as part of a stand-alone, off-grid system, this course will help you determine the best storage technology and capacity for your projects.

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Preview the Course Material

Check out a free preview of the course by clicking the button below. This is a live assignment from the course and will give you a good sense for what the course will be like.

Free Preview - Batteries in Solar PV Systems
Your Instructor Is One of the Best

Christopher LaForge is an ISPQ Master Trainer with more than 25 years of experience in the solar PV industry. He was named IREC Master Trainer of the Year for 2016.

Flexible Online Training for Industry Professionals

You can begin this online course instantly upon enrollment. Get access to all of the course materials as soon as you enroll. The instructor-led session will begin on the scheduled start date. During the session dates the instructor will be in the course answering questions on the discussion board. After the instructor-led session ends, you'll continue to have access to all of the course materials for a full year and can complete the course at your own pace.

Access Information and Build Your Training Library

After enrolling, the course materials will remain in your account and be accessible 12 months (1 year) after the session end date. Access can be extended beyond 1 year with a monthly membership. Rewatch videos and review assignments as many times as you want. View updates the instructor makes to the course as the industry advances. Return to your course anytime with online access from anywhere in the world.

Earn A Certificate of Completion

When you complete this course you are eligible for a certificate of completion from HeatSpring. You can download your certificate as soon as you have completed all of the course requirements. Students can easily share their verified certificates on their LinkedIn profiles using our LinkedIn integration.

Earn Continuing Education Credits

Approved for: NABCEP Advanced Credit Hours, NABCEP NEC, NABCEP JTA, NABCEP RE Elective, NABCEP Building or Fire Code, NABCEP PV Associate Renewal.

Approved NABCEP CEU Hours by Credential and Category

NABCEP Credential Advanced Hours for Exam Recertification CEU Hours NEC JTA RE Elective Building or Fire Code
PV Installation Professional (PVIP) Certification 40 30 6 30 12 2
PV Associate (PVA) Credential 0 12 0 0 0 0
PV Design Specialist (PVDS) Certification 24 30 6 18 12 2
PV Installer Specialist (PVIS) Certification 24 30 6 18 12 2
PV Technical Sales (PVTS) Certification 40 40 0 30 12 2
PV Commissioning & Maintenance Specialist (PVCMS) Certification 24 30 6 18 12 2

+ Learn more about NABCEP Credentials

Excellent lectures. I really enjoyed the extra reading; it was very informative. For someone who knew very little about solar arrays with battery backup I now feel very confident concerning sizing and installation after taking this course. Thank you for the opportunity.

- Larry Mulch, Tri County Electric

Christopher is a leader in solar energy. As a nationally-recognized credentialed practitioner and trainer, Chris has consistently promoted demonstrated quality and excellence in policy and practice. He has been a key player in building quality assurances into the market.

- Jane Weissman, Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC)

It was great to have all relevant materials in the same place, be provided with an overview by an industry expert, and also have the ability to ask questions. I feel that I gained a lot of knowledge from the course.

- Greg Pisanich, Stinger Ghiffarian Technologies

Chris LaForge knows a tremendous amount about solar and off-grid, grid-tie battery back-up (GTBB) systems. Taking this course helped me get through a challenging GTBB system design and install at my new job in solar. I found myself going back to the content provided many times to figure out and reinforce what I was encountering on the job.

- Brent Groce, Solar States

+ Read more student ratings and reviews for this course


Christopher LaForge

Certified Master Trainer (IREC), NABCEP Certified Photovoltaic Professional - Emeritus , Great Northern Solar

Christopher LaForge is the CEO of Great Northern Solar and a NABCEP certified photovoltaic installer-emeritus. He has been designing, specifying, and installing systems since 1988. He has been an instructor with the MREA since 1993 teaching Advanced Photovoltaic design and installation and is an ISPQ Affiliated Master Trainer. In 2016 he was named IREC's Master Trainer...[more]

Free Preview - Batteries in Solar PV Systems

Course Outline

Welcome - Orientation Materials

This course is self-paced, so you don’t need to be logged in at any specific time. You can complete the material whenever is convenient and work ahead or catch up if you fall behind. The course discussion board is a great place to interact with other students and ask questions. Expect to dedicate a minimum of 5 hours per week to the course. The instructor-led session runs for the posted dates and you will receive weekly emails to keep you on pace. Course materials will remain in your account with minimum guaranteed access for 12 months (1 year) after the session ends. Please review the orientation materials and introduce yourself on the discussion board.

  • Introduction to HeatSpring (Video - 01:25 minutes) Preview
  • Set up email notifications and your student profile (Text)
  • Introduce yourself on the discussion board (Text)
Week 1 - Outlining Battery Types and Beginning the Design

Topics covered this week include: client qualification, basic battery types (lead acid, FLA, SLA), why we use flooded lead acid batteries, load profiling, and beginning system design.

  • Reading Assignment #1: Client Qualification - When do they NEED batteries? (Download .docx)
  • Batteries in Solar PV Systems (Video - 13:43 minutes) Preview
  • Reading Assignment #2: Load Analysis - The Starting Point - What are you going to power? (Download .pdf)
  • Resource: Load Analysis Profile Template (Download .pdf)
  • Load Analysis (Video - 20:49 minutes)
  • Reading Assignment #3: LaForge Battery Basics (Download .pdf)
  • Resource: Battery Capacity Calculator (Download .xls)
  • Reading Assignment #4: Battery Sizing Tips for Stand-Alone PV Systems (Download .pdf)
  • Reading Assignment #5: How to Size a Deep Cycle Battery Bank (Resource)
  • Resource: Lead Acid Battery Buyers Guide (Download .xls)
  • The coming Evolution to Lithium Ion and other battery types... (Resource)
  • Take Week 1 Quiz (Quiz)
Week 2 - System Choices: Exotic Batteries, Load Analysis, Battery Bank Design, & Site Analysis

Topics covered this week include: exotic batteries - future of energy storage, expediting the load analysis (profile S), battery voltage choices, paralleling strings, battery wiring, large battery issues, and site analysis.

  • Exotics (Video - 10:54 minutes)
  • Reading Assignment #6 Nickel-metal hydride battery definition (Resource)
  • Reading Assignment #6 - Windows users Nickel-metal hydride battery definition (Resource)
  • Reading Assignment #7 Lithium-ion battery definition (Resource)
  • Reading Assignment #7 - windows users Lithium-ion battery definition (Resource)
  • Reading assignment #8 - Living with Lithiun-Ion Energy Storage (Download .pdf)
  • Lithium Ion - no longer exotic... (Text)
  • Resource - Load Analysis Consumption Excel Spreadsheet (Download .xls)
  • Using the "Consumption" Spreadsheet (Video - 17:55 minutes)
  • Resource - Battery containment Requirements for containing battery banks (Download .pdf)
  • Resource - Battery containment Typical commercial battery containment (Download .pdf)
  • Resource-NiMH Specifications of a typical NiMH battery (Download .pdf)
  • Resource-Lithium-Ion Promotional flyer for LiOn Battery (Download .pdf)
  • Resource-Lithium-Ion Specifications of a typical LiOn Battery (Download .pdf)
  • Resource-Example NiCad MSDS Exotic batteries have serious use issues-see the example (Download .pdf)
  • Voltage, Parallel strings, and Wiring (Video - 25:44 minutes)
  • Exercise 1: Battery Wiring diagram Print and complete the diagrams of Battery banks (Download .pdf)
  • How I review Manufacturer's Presentations (Video - 06:11 minutes)
  • Resource - Manufacturers battery presentation - MK Review the presentation - disregard AD content (Download .pdf)
  • Resource - Example of system schematic Review this example system design (Download .pdf)
  • Exercise 2: Battery Wiring diagram Print and complete the diagrams of more Battery banks (Download .pdf)
  • Site Survey - issues for systems with batteries (Video - 07:57 minutes)
  • WEEK 2 QUIZ: 19 Questions (Quiz)
  • Exercise 1: Diagram Key Review the correct wiring for exercise 1 with this Key (Download .pdf)
  • Exercise 2: Diagram Key Review the correct wiring for exercise 2 with this Key (Download .pdf)
Week 3 - Specification, Design, and Detailing Components

Topics covered this week include: battery bank design and wiring, on-grid vs. off-grid design differences, The Energy Master Design Program, and component detailing for charge controllers and inverters.

  • Resource - Grid-tie Battery Back-up Example of GTBB components (Download .pdf)
  • Resource - Grid-tie Battery Back-up 2nd Example of GTBB Components (Download .pdf)
  • Reading Assignment #9 Component Integration - MidNite In-depth analysis - disregard AD content (Download .pdf)
  • Resource - System Design Spreadsheet Energy Master Excel Spreadsheet (Download .xls)
  • Using the "Energy Master" Spreadsheet (Video - 30:24 minutes) Preview
  • Exercise 3: Array Wiring diagram Print and complete the diagrams of Array to Combiner Box wiring (Download .pdf)
  • Resource - Charge Controller String sizing Practice array sizing for MidNite Solar's Classic (Resource)
  • Resource - Manufacturer's Presentation-OutBack Review the presentation - disregard AD content (Download .pdf)
  • Resource - Manufacturer's Presentation-Schneider Review the presentation - NOTE:BEGIN AT PG. 102 and disregard AD content (Download .pdf)
  • Resource - Manufacturer's Presentation-Magnum Review presentation - disregard AD content (Download .pdf)
  • Resource - Manufacturer's Presentation-Morningstar Review presentation - disregard AD content (Download .pdf)
  • Reading Assignment #10 - XW Installation and Menu Overview Read through the overview carefully noting the extensive menus (Download .pdf)
  • Exercise 4: Array Wiring diagram Print and complete the diagrams of Array to combiner Box wiring (Download .pdf)
  • Resource tip - 2 Using the Home Power Articles in the course... (Video - 01:45 minutes)
  • Reading Assignment #11 - Read through "Choosing the best batteries" (Download .pdf)
  • WEEK 3 QUIZ: 19 Questions (Quiz)
  • Exercise 3: Diagram Key Review the correct wiring for exercise 3 with this Key (Download .pdf)
  • Exercise 4: Diagram Key Review the correct wiring for exercise 4 with this Key (Download .pdf)
Week 4 - Balancing System Components

Topics covered this week include: The proper blend - loads/PV/batteries/back-up generation, diagramming the overall system, DC coupling - the tradition, Case Study: Kroska, AC coupling - the innovation, component detailing, and AC coupled inverters.

  • Exercise 5: DC system wiring diagram Print and complete the diagram of this simple Dc system (Download .pdf)
  • Equipment Sizing Use and Maintenance (Video - 32:12 minutes)
  • Stand-alone Design article Review this article on off-grid system design (Download .docx)
  • Reading Assignment: Battery Based Inverters (Download .docx)
  • Resource - Inverter Buyer's Guide Review this guide - an inverter buyers guide - scroll down to find inverters that work with storage. (Resource)
  • Reading assignment: Read this article on Grid-intertied systems with battery back-up. (Download .pdf)
  • Exercise 6: DC+AC system wiring Diagram Print and complete the diagram of this System including an inverter (Download .pdf)
  • Resource - Manufacturer's Presentation - Trojan Review presentation - disregard AD content (Download .pdf)
  • Resource - Manufacturer's Presentation - Rolls Surrette Review presentation - disregard AD content (Download .pdf)
  • Reading Assignment #12a Familiarize yourself with The XW equipment 1) Inverter (Download .pdf)
  • Reading Assignment #12b 2) Power System Installation (Download .pdf)
  • Reading Assignment #12c 3) MPPT 80 600 Charge control installation (Download .pdf)
  • Reading Assignment #12d 4) MPPT 80 600 Charge Control Operation (Download .pdf)
  • Reading Assignment #12e 5) System Control Panel (Download .pdf)
  • Reading Assignment #13a Familiarize yourself with the Magnum equipment 1) inverter (Download .pdf)
  • Reading Assignment #13b 2) Magnum Panel (Download .pdf)
  • Reading Assignment #13c 3) Remote Control (Download .pdf)
  • Exercise 7: DC+AC system Wiring Diagram Print and complete this final diagram exercise (Download .pdf)
  • Reading Assignment #14 Read this AC Coupling White Paper (Download .pdf)
  • WEEK 4 QUIZ: 23 Questions (Quiz)
  • Exercise 5: Diagram Key Review the correct wiring for exercise 5 with this key (Download .pdf)
  • Exercise 6: Diagram Key Review the correct wiring for exercise 6 with this key (Download .pdf)
  • Exercise 7: Diagram Key Review the correct wiring for exercise 7 with this key (Download .pdf)
Week 5 - Components: Continued Use and Maintenance

Topics this week include: Reviewing additional components (combiner boxes, charge controls, and appliances) and finalizing the design by component integration, system labeling and other code issues, aesthetics of design, and important considerations for use and annual maintenance.

  • Resource - PV Combiner Box Review this article - choosing a combiner box. (Resource)
  • Resource - Combiner Box Specifications - MidNite Review this Product Line by MidNite Solar (Download .pdf)
  • Reading Assignment #15d 4) Battery monitor - Flexnet DC (Download .pdf)
  • Resource - Charge Controller Review this blog - reviews of good charge controllers (Resource)
  • Resource - Battery Monitoring Compare battery monitoring tools at this site. (Resource)
  • Reading - Battery Monitoring 2 Review this presentation on battery monitoring and maintenance. (Resource)
  • Reading Assignment #15a Familiarize yourself with the OutBack equipment 1) Inverter-off grid (.pdf) (Download .pdf)
  • Reading Assignment #15b 2) Inverter - grid-tie (Download .pdf)
  • Reading Assignment #15c 3) Charge Controller - Flexmax (Download .pdf)
  • Reading Assignment #15e 5) Flexware - ICS Plus combiner boxes (Download .pdf)
  • Reading Assignment #15f Review the FlexPower Radian quick start guide. (Download .pdf)
  • Review this article on Bonding and Grounding in PV systems (Download .pdf)
  • Resource - Off-Grid Appliances Review this article on choosing the correct appliances for Off-Grid applications (Resource)
  • Reading Assignment #17a Familiarize yourself with the LinkPRO amp-hour meter installation (Download .pdf)
  • Reading Assignment #17b Familiarize yourself with the LinkPRO operation (Download .pdf)
  • Reading Assignment #18a Familiarize yourself with the TRI-METRIC Amp-hour meter Installation (Download .pdf)
  • Reading assignment #18b Familiarize yourself with the TRI-METRIC operation (Download .pdf)
  • PV Watts - practice using the NREL production and cost Calculator (Resource)
  • Creating your Capstone Project (Video - 05:12 minutes)
  • WEEK 5 QUIZ 25 Questions (Quiz)
Week 6 - Summary and Capstone Project

This week you'll tie everything together by finishing your capstone project to demonstrate what you've learned. The purpose is to get practice designing battery-based PV systems.

  • Reading Assignment #19 Ground-Fault Protection, note the difference for battery systems (Download .pdf)
  • Reading Assignment #20 Workmanship - note Battery issues (Download .pdf)
  • Reading Assignment #21 Permit/Inspection Checklist - note Battery issues (Download .pdf)
  • Reading Assignment #22 Labeling and the NEC - 2014 update (Download .pdf)
  • Resource - Required Labels Visual guide to required labels for PV systems (Download .pdf)
  • Resource - Safety for PV Installations Review this OSEIA guide to Safety issues for PV Installations (Download .pdf)
  • Resource: OSHA Web Page for the Solar Industry (Resource)
  • Resource: Solar ABC's web page on Building Codes (Resource)
  • Comparing LiOn and Lead Acid Batteries Today... (Video - 14:10 minutes)
  • Capstone - Example Consumption Spreadsheet - Off Grid (Download .pdf)
  • Capstone - Example Energy Master Spreadsheet - Off Grid (Download .pdf)
  • Capstone - Example Cost Estimate - Off Grid (Download .pdf)
  • Capstone - Example Project Diagram - Off Grid (Download .pdf)
  • Capstone - Example PV Watts Calculator - Off Grid (Download .pdf)
  • Upload your Capstone Project Documents (Submit File)
  • GNS Mobile Unit Workshops... (Download .pdf)
After The Course - Feedback and Additional Resources

No matter how great this course is, we know it's just one part of a bigger journey. In this module we'll start thinking about what comes next. You'll provide feedback on the course and learn about additional resources. Don't forget that you'll have access to the course materials for 12 months after the session ends. Feel free to come back as much as you like to continue learning, and please stay in touch. After your year of access expires you can optionally extend access with a HeatSpring Membership.

  • 1 Year of Access to Course Materials (Text)
  • Feedback: 2-minute Exit Survey (Survey)
  • Consider Joining as a HeatSpring Member (Resource)
  • Certificate of Completion: Request a Certificate (Certificate)
Free Preview - Batteries in Solar PV Systems

Free Courses on Solar, Batteries and Storage, Design and Installation

Battery Capacity - The Basis of Storage

Students who participate in this free lecture will be able to properly define battery capacity, define amp-hours and watt-hours, understand the active elements of a battery and how they affect capacity.

The Kroska Case Study: Solar PV Systems with Storage

This case study presents the Kroska Residential PV installation Seminar that blends two PV system designs (battery free and battery back-up) and accommodates two roof planes and types.

Electrical Loads in High Performance Buildings

This presentation covers the subject of plug load energy-efficiency and the lighting, appliances, and consumer electronics used in the home. You will glean priceless information about how to save hundreds of dollars.